I don’t know why it soothes me so
when the mail comes,
the sound of the metal door swinging open
The post’s arrival marks mid-afternoon,
a quarter-note in the cadence of slow days.
I try to shed pajamas
and get the babies bathed by eleven
The mail-woman—she’s in her late sixties, I think,
dangles a cigarette from her mouth—
for months I thought it was a lollipop.
Now I know it’s newly lit—she must start to smoke at the box or two before,
16437 or 16345.
When there’s a package too big for our box
she lays on the horn,
hoping I’ll emerge so she won’t have to climb out of her truck
and clomp up the steps to the front porch,
but I duck behind the living room curtain.
Mostly she brings bills and flyers and coupon packs
for gutter cleaning, plumbers, Chinese lunch buffets,
yet their arrival tells me there’s a workaday world
with people showered and dressed early and getting and spending.
Once upon another time,
me with my master’s degree and pantyhose, hot coffee in a steel travel mug,
we were going places,
we were somebody.
A long while from now—but not so long, really—the box
will be stuffed with college come-ons
from Tech and perhaps even Vandy or Duke,
they’ll court my girls—I can see already how bright they are.
I set the mail on the counter for my better half,
he’ll sift through it later,
standing in his tie
while I stir what’s on the stove,
the hair around my face curling from the steam.